NORTHERN England needs urgent and substantial investment to boost economic recovery, improve inclusivity and decarbonise its transport system according to leaders from the region.

Ahead of the Transport for the North Annual Conference on September 20 in Leeds, mayor of West Yorkshire, Ms Tracy Brabin, and mayor of Greater Manchester, Mr Andy Burnham, have highlighted the need for increased transport funding in the region as part of the government’s levelling up agenda.

It’s expected that major projects including the £40bn Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) which is planned to be a mixture of new lines and upgrades and connect to other projects including the trans-Pennine route upgrade (TPRU) and the eastern leg of HS2 (HS2E), will be discussed, with their futures to be determined in the delayed Integrated Rail Plan (IRP).

“Better transport connections can transform our region’s prospects, giving our people and businesses the chance to explore new opportunities and achieve their ambitions,” Brabin says. “Government has the opportunity to bring its levelling up agenda to life by committing to NPR and HS2 in full - we really need them to step up now and meet the challenge so we can start to build the future for the generations to come.”

“Major decisions are looming which will have a massive bearing on life in the North of England for the rest of this century,” Burnham says. “At such a crucial moment, it is important that the North comes together as one and makes the case for the investment needed to build an integrated, affordable, 21st century public transport system.”

The British government has repeatedly said that the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) will detail plans for HS2E and NPR. This was due to be published by the end of 2020, but has yet to be released, despite ministers regularly stating it would be published “soon” throughout the first half of 2021. IRJ sources have suggested it may not appear until the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in November.

“The country will not be levelled up until people here can benefit from public transport of the same quality, at the same cost, as London,” says Burnham. “They have had to put up with over-priced, second-class services for far too long and now deserve to see real change.”